Bachelor of Arts in Music

The Bachelor of Arts in Music provides a humanistic approach to the study of music as a significant part of human tradition and culture. This degree program provides broad liberal arts preparation with significant study in music. The structure of the degree program offers students several avenues to pursue individual interests in music as preparation for careers in music or music-related fields.  In consultation with an adviser, students complete an elective emphasis appropriately focused on their area of interest.

Preparation for the major involves competency and/or coursework requirements in theory, ear training, and piano.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Musical Literacy. Students will demonstrate skill in reading, notating, and transcribing music by ear. Students will demonstrate critical listening abilities through describing, analyzing, and articulating artistic and perceptual aspects of music.
  2. Performance. Students will demonstrate applied performance skills through expressive instrumental or vocal performances and/or improvisation.
  3. Critical Understanding of Historical, Cultural, and Aesthetic Contexts. Students will be able to apply historical and cultural knowledge and aesthetic judgement in order to articulate significance and meaning in music within diverse contexts.
  4. Effective Communication. Students will be able to express themselves articulately in writing and speech to fellow musicians and non-musicians in a variety of contexts.
  5. Technology Literacy. Students will demonstrate skill in using technology to capture, create, and manipulate sound in musically compelling ways.

Music (B.A.) — 48 units

  • Students with prior knowledge or experience may petition to complete requirements (units) by credit by examination.
  • Lower-division preparation for the Bachelor of Arts in Music should be completed during the first two years of study at SF State.
  • Lower-division preparation in music must be completed prior to enrollment in upper-division Music coursework.
  • A grade of C or better is required for all Music courses in the Bachelor of Arts in Music major.

Advising Requirement

Students are required to schedule an advising session with a Music faculty member every semester.

Foundational Theory (3 units)

MUS 130/TH A 131The Foundations of Music Theory3

Lower-Division Theory (6 units)

MUS 232Diatonic Harmony3
MUS/TH A 234

Ear Training (4 units)

Select Two:

MUS/TH A 221Fundamentals of Ear Training and Musicianship I2
MUS 222Fundamentals of Ear Training and Musicianship II2
MUS 270Improvisation Techniques2

Piano (2 units)

Select Two:

MUS 201Class Piano I1
MUS 202Class Piano II1
MUS/TH A 206Beginning Jazz/Pop Piano1

Upper-Division Core (6 Units)

MUS 433Introduction to Music Technology2
MUS 542GWMusic in Culture and Context - GWAR3
MUS 598Senior Thesis1

Western History (3 units)

Select One:

MUS 550Western European Music History from the Middle Ages to 17503
MUS 551European and American Classical Music History of the 18th and 19th Century3
MUS 552Classical Music History of Europe and the Americas in the 20th Century3

Global Musicianship (6 units)

Select Two:

AFRS 514African Musical Diaspora3
AIS 320American Indian Music3
MUS 513Asian Musical Diaspora3
MUS 515Latin American Musical Diaspora3

Ensembles (6 units)

Select 6 units from MUS 370 - MUS 380 or MUS 386 - MUS 3906

Upper-Division Electives (12 units)

  • Courses may come from any MUS course numbered 300 and above
  • Courses may also include any of the above options not already taken to fulfill a requirement
  • Students may take a max of 4 semesters of MUS 303, MUS 313, MUS 353, MUS 450

Complementary Studies

Twelve units of Complementary Studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts in Music. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than MUS and not cross-listed with MUS. Music majors will be offered several pathways toward completing this requirement, each of which is designed to facilitate graduation in a timely manner. Music majors may, with the approval of a program advisor, satisfy the Complementary Studies requirement by completing 12 units in a single foreign language of their choosing; 12 units from courses taken in a study abroad program; 12 units from courses taken as partial completion of a second major, minor, or certificate; or 12 units from courses in related disciplines. Related disciplines typically include theater, dance, cinema, broadcast and electronic communications, creative writing, journalism, kinesiology, physical education, health education, holistic health, biology, elementary education, English, history, anthropology, business, and journalism. Up to 12 units of Complementary Studies may count toward the major for courses that are related to music, as determined by a major advisor.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music requires completion of the University General Education requirements, 45 units of requirements in music appropriate to the degree emphasis, and additional elective units for a total of 120 units. Additional elective units may be taken in Music, but a maximum of 60 units in Music may be counted towards the 120 units required for graduation.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Music.
MUS ADT Roadmap

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Music

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.